Availability with South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun
The Rose Garden
The White House
May 14, 2003
6:42 P.M. EDT
It's my honor to welcome our good friend, the President of South Korea, to
Washington, D.C. and the Oval Office, and now the Rose Garden. I've been really
looking forward to this visit. We've had several phone calls where we've discussed
important issues, and now we've had a chance to discuss important issues face-to-face.
I have found the President to be an easy man to talk to. He expresses opinions
very clearly and it's easy to understand. One thing is for certain; we will
work to have the best possible relations between our countries, and it's based
upon close consultation on a wide variety of issues. There's no question in
my mind we'll have the kind of personal relationship where we can -- will consult
freely to solve major problems.
We, of course, discussed the need to have a nuclear weapons-free Korean Peninsula.
I assured the President we will continue to work to achieve a peaceful solution.
We're making good progress toward achieving that peaceful resolution of the
issue of the Korean Peninsula in regards to North Korea.
We talked about other issues. One important issue is to make sure we continue
working closely on economic issues. I have confidence in regards to the South
Korean economy. I believe South Korea will continue to be an engine for economic
growth and vitality. And I look forward to working with the President to continue
to foster very strong bilateral relations.
So, Mr. President, I'm glad you're here. Welcome.
PRESIDENT ROH: When I left Korea, I had both concerns and hopes in my mind.
Now, after having talked to President Bush, I have gotten rid of all my concerns,
and now I return to Korea only with hopes in my mind.
In a very short period of time, we have smoothly reached an agreement. It
was not even necessary to tell President Bush all the logic that I had in mind
to convince him before I came here. President Bush had an accurate idea of
what concerned me and what were my hopes. And I second to what President Bush
has just stated.
There is one thing that he didn't mention. We have reached agreement that
the Korea-U.S. alliance have been maintaining its strength over the past 50
years, and it will become only more stronger in the coming 50 years, or even
more. And I could think of many achievements that we both obtained from this
meeting, but the most important one of those is the fact that President Bush
and I had a very frank and candid discussion. And apart from our national agenda,
we also built a close, personal friendship.
I would like to rephrase myself. We have reached agreements on many national
agenda issues, but, more importantly, we have become to trust each other and
have confidence in each other.
I would like to reiterate my heartfelt thanks to President Bush and his aides
for providing me with this opportunity. Thank you very much. (Applause.)